A new year, a younger you

If you have a body fat percent that is lower than 12% and a muscle percentage of over 40%, you body will register a younger age in a body assessment test on an impedance weighing scale.

Cristiano Ronaldo is almost 37, but has the body age of a 25-year-old   -  Getty Images

Every year on this planet for you will be an older year. As we age with time, our bodies slow down. An athlete will retire because of the aging process. Cristiano Ronaldo is almost 37, but has the body age of a 25-year-old. This means he can play on till he is 42 or even 45. Leander Paes showed us that he can still play and be fit at 48 years of age.

As we move into 2022, one New Year’s resolution can be: “ I will become younger in age this year”.

How can you do it? How can you make your body younger? Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal and even Robin Uthappa have lowered their body ages. My team of nutritionists has been able to alter the diet and with the athletes focusing on training, especially resistance training, they have accomplished younger body ages on a sports nutrition programme.

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The key element in all the fit players in the world is the distribution of muscle mass and fat in their body. If you have a body fat percent that is lower than 12% and a muscle percentage of over 40%, you body will register a younger age in a body assessment test on an impedance weighing scale or a DEXA body scan.

I recently came across an article of a 70-year-old triathlon athlete for whom the MRI of the Quadriceps muscle was done. They compared this to a 40-year-old. This 70-year-old athlete was so young that they could not differentiate the muscle tone in the MRIs. Only the bone mass gave the 70-year-old away. My learning from this and all the biochemistry and physiology analysis in the scientific world is that MUSCLE IS THE ONLY AGE REVERSIBLE ORGAN in the human body.

So how do you make your muscles younger in 2022 irrespective of your current age? Here below is my resolution for 2022 and I hope you can take some snippets out of it.

I will do a blood test and check my Vitamin D as well as all other vitamin Levels. I will improve them via a good diet and supplements.

I will add weight training to my regime three times a week if I am not an athlete. As an athlete, I will plan my training and fitness routine around my coach and fitness trainer with data from my body assessment. I will check my body age and keep that as my starting benchmark. When you weight-train, you provide stimulus to the muscles fibers to grow and morph. If the training is right, the stimulus will break down muscle that releases growth hormone and other endocrine substances that allow for the muscle cells to increase in number.

I will walk more to burn more fat or work with HIIT training (high intensity interval training). For coaches and people who have retired, check your visceral fat which is the fat around your organs. Visceral fat above 6 is not a good sign. If you have a waist above 36 inches, you are prone to heart disease and hypertension. Dropping fat will lower your body age. Dropping fat will reduce your risk for heart disease.

I will add foods for athletes that boost testosterone as this is the one hormone that builds muscle in both men and women. An intake of broccoli and almonds helps in balancing the testosterone to estrogen levels. White mushrooms are known to allow better functioning of testosterone in the body. At least three times a week, white mushrooms should be added to the diet to enhance muscle building via testosterone enhancement. This is the only legal way via foods. An egg a day would be my recommendation.

Zinc and a good Vitamin B complex will help in fat burning and muscle development. A blood test should let you know if you need to supplement. As always, I advise that athletes take professional and scientific advice from a qualified sports nutritionist on designing a supplement regime that enhances performance and at the same time does not damage the liver or the kidney. Keep in mind the doping issues with contaminated supplements or wrong supplements.

For people who are past their 40s like me, I suggest you explore L-carnitine as it is a safe cholesterol reducer. I say safe as it is used even in baby food formulas. However, DO NOT take if you have any medications and check with your doctor before you take L-carnitine as a supplement. The reason I like this supplement is that it shuttles fats from outside the cells into the mitochondria where energy is utilised.

READ: Microbiome — the gut feeling in an athlete

For all the athletes who want to increase their shelf life, it is important to include foods that are high in colour and phytonutrients. Recently, when speaking to Robin Uthappa, we strategised our diet plan for 2022 to be anti-aging and age reversal. When the body grows older, we tend to see a lot of aches and pains, and tissue damage which sometimes leads to increased injuries. For Robin, we have added a lot of purple cabbage, Omega-3 Cold fish supplementation from Iceland along with Collagen protein to improve strength in the gut and the ligaments in the body. Also, we are working with green tea and a lot of dehydrated vegetable superfoods to be added to his smoothie. Resveratrol from grapes is another anti-aging molecule that helps improve life span of cells in the human body. Watch out for a younger Robbie this IPL season.

There is a lot of research happening on longevity of athletes. The main thing that Indian athletes and the rest of us need to do is to source a better quality of food, try to go organic and eat as little of restaurant food as possible. I believe caterers, restaurants and hotels do not cook food from a performance or nutrition perspective. It is made from a taste perspective. Most restaurant cooks do not even wash the rice before cooking. Vegetables will still be covered with their pesticides when they slice and dice it. Do you think the people there are worried that they need to wash the veggies correctly because a superstar sitting in that hotel room is doing an anti-aging diet resolution in 2022?

I wish you all the best in 2022. Use your common sense. Make a resolution. Get a support team in place and get scientific strategies designed. Get up every morning with a purpose. 2022 may be your year or it may be the start of a great career. Let’s get cracking and win!

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